By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Rob Drummond is developing into one of the Johnstown Chiefs fastest skaters with a knack for scoring goals, especially at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
You might say the rookie center from London, Ontario, is establishing his own identity in Johnstown.
“It’s kind of an adjustment period when you come out of junior into professional hockey. It took a few games to get into the swing of things,” said Drummond, who won the coveted Memorial Cup with the powerhouse London Knights of the Ontario League in junior hockey. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable now.”
During five junior seasons in London, Drummond played with several first-round draft picks, including this year’s first pick overall, Patrick Kane, now with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sam Gagner was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round this year. Drummond was sixth on London’s scoring list with 66 points last season. Kane had 145, and Gagner, 118.
Two years ago, Drummond had 27 points on a Knights team that included Oilers first-round pick Rob Schremp and Chicago Blackhawks second-round selection David Bolland.
The 2004-05 Memorial Cup winning Knights were led by Corey Perry, the Anaheim Ducks’ first-round pick in 2003, and Dylan Hunter, taken in the ninth round by Buffalo.
“It was amazing playing with all those great players,” Drummond said. “It was hard for teams to beat us. We had a pretty good lineup with a lot of players that moved on and already made it to the National Hockey League. It was great playing with them and something I’ll never forget.”
Drummond was a steady contributor on those teams, but some of the big-name players took most of the spotlight.
Drummond admitted that sometimes being a low-profile player on a Knights team labeled the best in hockey during the NHL lockout season required the proper perspective.
“Early in my career, I thought maybe it would be better for me if I moved on somewhere else where there weren’t as many skilled players and I could play more,” Drummond said. “With that you’d give up a chance to win the Memorial Cup. I didn’t want to pass that up. I have no regrets. I’m glad I stayed in London.”
Chiefs coach Ian Herbers is glad Drummond is in Johnstown. In the 15 games, Drummond has seven goals and 11 points – including two goals and an assist against Columbia on Wednesday.
“Rob is made for these new rules. He’s a player who can skate,” Herbers said. “He’s a very smart player. In the past, he’s played forward and defense and helped teams out when they were shorthanded at the backend. His greatest assets are his skating ability and speed. He’s adjusting to the league and the pro level. He’s realized he’s got to take advantage of that speed and go to the net and get a shot off.”
Chiefs fans have seen all seven goals. Drummond had three goals in a four-game span, all at home, from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31.
He had a goal in both games last weekend at the War Memorial, including a three-point night in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Trenton.
“I thought about that, too. I haven’t scored on the road,” Drummond said. “Maybe it’s because we practice there and I’m more comfortable there. It’s just the way the puck bounces.”